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One Deck versus Six Deck Blackjack

1 July 2021

QUESTION: I was walking through a table pit, looking at blackjack games. Most were six decks, but there was one single-deck game open.

A guy walking past me said, "You don't want to play the single-deck. It's terrible."

I admit I'm no expert. I just started playing last year and learned basic strategy on the computer while the casinos were closed. But I thought single-deck was better.

ANSWER: If all rules are equal, single-deck blackjack has a lower house edge than multi-deck games. That's because blackjacks are more frequent and you receive 10-value cards on top of double-downs in a higher percentage of single-deck hands.

However, combinations of other blackjack rules can more than offset any gain from playing with one deck. Examples: The house gets an extra edge if the dealer hits instead of stands on soft 17; if double downs are restricted to certain totals instead of permitted on any first two cards; if players are not allowed to double down after splits; or if splitting pairs is limited to once or twice instead of three times.

The elephant in the table pit is whether blackjacks pay 3-2 or 6-5. A 6-5 payoff on blackjacks tacks 1.4 percent onto the house edge, and that's a huge step. I wouldn't play a 6-5 game with any number of decks.

My best guess from current trends is that your passer-by knew the single-deck game paid 6-5 while the others paid 3-2, making the six-deckers better games.


QUESTION: I'm usually a roulette player and I bet a little on the slots for a chance at a really big win. On my most recent trip, I decided to play video poker for a change. I got on a Ten Play machine for a quarter each hand. After about 15 minutes of up and down play I was dealt a royal flush.

I have never gotten a royal flush before even after pulling cards so to get this hand on the deal is a once in a lifetime draw. Even better was the fact that this was times ten because I was on a Ten Play game! It paid $200 per hand times 10 for a total of $2000! Don’t think I can do any better than that so I think my video poker days are over.

ANSWER: Congratulations on your miracle hand!

Royal flushes are a lot less common on the deal than on the draw. No matter which five-card video poker game you play, your chances of a royal on the deal are 1 in 649,740. Those are the same royal odds as at five-card stud-based table poker games such as Let It Ride or Caribbean Stud.


Including draws, the chances of getting a royal are roughly 1 in 40,000, depending on the game and your drawing strategy. In 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, we see royals an average of about once per 40,799 hands, while in 9-7-5 Bonus Poker, where we hold a lot more partial flushes, royals come an average of once per 48,035 hands.


One more thing: Just to avoid any confusion, by betting a quarter on each hand you meant you were betting five nickels per hand on a 5-cent Ten Play game. That way, you get the full payoff on a royal of 4,000 coins per royal -- $200 on each of 10 hands on a nickel game for your $2,000 total.

If you were playing a 25-cent game and betting only one quarter per hand, then your payoffs would have been 250 quarters, or $62.50, per royal for a total of $625.
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski